Mother can be such a beautiful word. For many it conjures up memories of a welcoming shoulder to lean on, a warm hug to fall into and a batch of fresh baked cookies to ease the pain of a bad day. But it’s also a complicated word – a word loaded with difficult memories and yes, sometimes a lot of hurt, abandonment and pain.
Every woman experienced a unique relationship with her mother but not every woman blossomed in that relationship. Many women, despite their mother’s good intentions and well-meaning hearts, endured relationships with their mothers that caused issues that affect them to this day – and this isn’t usually the mother’s fault. The problems we face are bigger than that. I believe being negatively impacted by the mother-daughter relationship is as common as it is because women, as a gender, have endured centuries of abuse, neglect, dismissal and oppression.
The arguments we keep repeating with our spouses, the areas we feel disconnected from our children, the unhealthy patterns we keep repeating, the insecurity that plagues us, the mistrust we have of our own intuition and gut feelings, the areas in our lives where we can’t speak up, the competitive or inauthentic relationships we share with other women, the challenge we have with setting healthy boundaries and the way we feel removed from our passion and purpose can all be traced to the legacy of how women were treated that runs in our family.
If we don’t know what that legacy is, how can we hope to heal it?
I work with women who have experienced complicated relationships with their mothers and the one thing I’ve come to understand is women are a brave and beautiful bunch. We are emotional warriors who, despite the pain and tears, face the scariest and most grueling emotional battles with courage and determination – and we do it for our families, our marriages and because we want to take care of our communities and the world. We heal because we care. We heal ourselves and our own emotional wounds because we want to prevent our children from experiencing the suffering we endured. We talk about our feelings and dig up our past because we want to offer unconditional love to our spouses. We look at our issues and take responsibility for our emotional wounds because we want to heal the planet and make it a more peaceful place. We aren’t perfect but try and we care a lot.
We put other people’s needs ahead of our own. We empathize and carry the emotional burdens so others won’t have to. But the mother wound exists because women have been expected to do this. They have been forced to shoulder more than their share of the emotional labor in the family, in their communities and in the world and it has left them depleted, spent and empty.
And, in their emotionally depleted state, they’ve often been responsible for raising children – who had, of course, no choice but to become emotionally depleted also.
It’s not just that mothers have been raising children from an emotionally depleted state. It’s also that their wisdom has been devalued and mistrusted. For instance, in the culture I was raised, emotions, intuition and creativity are regarded as frivolous, unnecessary and ineffective more often than they are acknowledged as powerful and important. These ideas about emotions, intuition and creativity affected my grandmothers and they affected my mother and they have most certainly also affected me. You can’t take that which is inherent within me, put it down, devalue it, dismiss it and expect these actions not to affect my self-esteem, my choices, my relationships and the way I parent.
The Mother Wound is real and it is most likely affecting your life in one way or another. But healing the Mother Wound doesn’t have to be hard. It can be as beautiful as women coming together and supporting each other in healing circles. Women coming together to mother each other – spiritually and emotionally – heals the Mother Wound for every heart in the room who is witness to the healing. Sisterhood is medicine. And it is such an important medicine for mothers of daughters to take regularly. It will heal the past and usher women into a new relationship with each other and ultimately reunite each woman with her innate wisdom.
And from her center she will navigate her life with her unique internal compass and her life will become her own.
She will no longer apologize for having an opinion. She will no longer feel content with playing small to make someone else feel comfortable. She will no longer swallow her feelings, sweep the issues under the rug, cry herself to sleep without asking for help, expect herself to be a super woman, ignore her dreams, feel ugly in her body, settle for inequality, keep her mouth shut or feel like a bitch, value being nice to the point of sacrificing herself and take care of every single other person while putting herself and her needs high up on some abandoned shelf.
Through the Mother Wound, we learned to abandon our intuition, our passions, our opinions, our needs, our magic, our creativity and our emotions. We sacrificed ourselves. Meeting with other conscious women in an authentic and sacred commitment to unconditional sisterhood, we can find ourselves again. And when we heal, our relationships heal, our children heal, our communities heal and our daughters are freed. Our daughters can lay down the Mother Wound and follow their hearts.
But first it’s up to us. Let’s nourish and free our own hearts and show them how it’s done.
If you’re interested in exploring your own Mother Wound, I host a free of charge online Mother Wound Wisdom Circle most Mondays at 10 am MST. We meet in my private online meeting space and use intuition, sisterhood and simple soulful art activities to mend the Mother Wound and return to our personal power. You can register here or read more about it here.